Hajia Khadijat Sheidu-Shabi is the Chairperson, Women in Logistics and Transport (WILAT Nigeria), she is also a General Manager, Environment with the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
In this interview on the sideline of the 13th anniversary of the WILAT Day celebrated every last Thursday in July, she revealed the strides recorded by the association in the past 13 years, the role of mentorship in the formation of an astute woman.
She also disclosed that it is a weakness to use being a woman as an excuse to fail in getting a job done, she urged women to give their best in order to rise to the top. Excerpt
Tell Us About WILAT And What The Association Stands For
WILAT is the female arm of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation (CILT), it started 13 years ago in 2010 in Malta when they realized that they don’t have a lot of women in the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation.
So, it was decided that the female arm of CILT should be introduced. And from different countries, they all went around, but we have one lady here in Nigeria by the name Aisha Ali Ibrahim, who in 2010 came back home from Malta and decided to follow the call of CILT.
And so WILAT Nigeria started in Nigeria on June 12, 2010 which is 13 years ago. WILAT Nigeria is in 38 countries of the world and still spreading. So, we’re very proud of it. And every year, in the last 10 years, this is our eleventh, we always celebrate WILAT Day.
Of course, we feel very passionate about it. We’re proud that something like that came out of Nigeria and so when it is time for us, all the ladies and our colleagues, our men join us to celebrate WILAT Day.
Before I forget, we are not only a maritime association or organization, it’s broader and more encompassing of all the modes of transportation, roads, aviation, railway, logistics and maritime.
Our tentacles also spread into health and the military, so we all come together on this day to celebrate.
What Is The WILAT Day All About?
It’s at this stage that we interface. If you look at what we’re having today, which is what we do every last Thursday in July, irrespective of the day, that is what we have chosen. Last Thursday in July is the day we choose, so that we all come together.
So, you see the younger ones, they are able to look up to the older ones and share from their wealth of experience.
We’ve expanded, we have bankers to come and give us banking opportunities, we invite developers to come and give them, let them know, the women, what they can do to enrich themselves and also have houses. So, we do all that on WILAT day. So basically, what we’re doing is we’re enriching ourselves.
Can You Pinpoint Some Of The Landmark Achievements Of This Association In The Last 13 Years Of Being In Existence?
So, when we started as Women in Logistics and Transport, we just started like maybe 10, 20 members. As of today we have about 250 members and every member is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation.
We do mentoring, we mentor, we have students that even come from schools. We mentor them when we’re going on trips, we take them around. We do entrepreneurship for our women. We invite women that are into manufacturing or export of products. We do entrepreneurship. We’re trying to raise the standards and the awareness.
We also do Corporate Social Responsibility. We go to Motherless Babies Homes, we go to the villages and we give bicycles. We go to the villages where the women can still use bicycles to go to the farm.
One in three or four years we do that. Every year we give wheelchairs. We either go to the airport, you know they use wheelchairs at the airport for all people. We go to the orthopedic hospitals. So, these are all the things we have been able to do over the years. What we are doing today is not something we were doing before. It’s just about years of experience and we’ve finally been able to capture as many things as possible to touch the lives of our younger and older women.
Nigeria Has Ranked Very Lowly On The Index Of Transportation And Logistics As A Stakeholder Of Such A Very Critical Body How Can Nigeria Improve On This Ranking?
As a council member, I can conveniently tell you that what we are trying to do, like I told you, WILAT incorporate all the modes of transportation into the association. And once we are able to incorporate them, we’re also trying to get chartered.
You know when you are chartered, every mode must register with you. Once we are chartered, every mode of transportation will come. And when every mode is there, then you will have to obey. I don’t know if you understand. And then there will be more coordination among all the modes of transportation.
What Does WILAT Hope To Achieve With This Year’s Event?
For this year’s event, our focus is to enlarge the scope of our women beyond what they can achieve professionally. We have invited the developer, we have invited the bank, and we have an exhibition stand.
And all those people outside, they can go and talk to them. That’s what we have done differently this year to make it happen.
So, How Can Women Generally Rise Above The Challenges In The Workplace To Achieve Their Potential?
It is a weakness to say I am a woman when given a job to do. In the workplace, there is no man or a woman, because it is the same job that is given to a woman that will be given to a man. The only thing I can say as a woman, is that you must be result oriented, if the men work 20 percent, be ready to work 40 per cent harder to be recognized. So, you earn the respect.
So, there is nothing called because you are a woman. No, no. When you work, people are watching you. Automatically, they will call you when they see your potential.
So, bring out your potential. Double what the men are doing. And then it is when they now look down on you, when you know you are better that you can now say is it because I am a woman that is where this relationship comes from. I think we are moving; we have women Seafarers, we have women on the seas, we have women driving trains, women driving the tugboats, we have them driving trucks, we have them everywhere.
We have a role model, she is a truck driver with Dangote, her name is Halima, she will be here today so, the women are moving, so you must show that you are worth it and show your worth.
What Is The Role Of Mentorship In Building An Astute Woman?
This is also part of what WILAT Day is all about, it’s because of the mentorship. We would have had some young women here today but they are having their exams, so they are not here.
We use them at Ushers, when we are going for programs, we take them along, we take care of them. And you know this is where we let them meet with the older women. So that we can use WILAT as a platform for continuity in the transport sector.
And you can see that all our speakers and resource persons, they are all WILAT members. We have enough people inside to take care of them.
We also have what we call role models. Role models are women in all these modes that I’ve told you, who are excelling. Women are excelling in their careers, we acknowledge them and we make them role models so that the younger ones in all this can look up to them.
Our role models, this is the one time in a year that we really meet with them.